Spring brings us an abundance of vegetables, with tender stems and delicate flavours. Some of the vegetables have a very short season so it is worth making the most of them.
Purple sprouting broccoli is available at this time of year, and if you’re a gardener it will be gracing your vegetable patch. It is rather like asparagus with tender stems that should snap, the delicate florets having a dark purple colour. It should be eaten as fresh as possible otherwise it tends to become a tough.
It is full of vitamin C and a good source of iron, folic acid, calcium and Vitamin A. Purple sprouting broccoli was initially cultivated by the Romans, so you will see a number of Italian dishes including it. It has been grown in the UK since the 18th Century.
It can be used in a variety of dishes – boiled or steamed it can be a simple side dish; add it to a stir-fry with some chilli, add it to pasta, or eat it with Hollandaise sauce as an indulgent treat.
Mackerel is also available at this time of year - in abundance. Mackerel is a beautiful shiny fish with grey and silver stripes. Mackerel is an oily fish, and an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. It can give us some Vitamin D as well.
It has a delicate flesh which can be cooked in many ways and stays moist when cooked. It can have a rich flavour once cooked, and doesn’t go well with creamy buttery sauces. It is best simply grilled or pan fried. It can be paired with sharp flavours such as rhubarb or gooseberry which cuts through the richness of the flavour.
Purple sprouting broccoli on the side of grilled mackerel is a delicious combination.